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Sisters Singing to Ruffled Youth   Leave a comment


Philip Davison Nature Diaries. Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge.

Frog Chorus

Once again there have been several nights of rain over the past week.  It won’t be long before the rains become the norm and we move into seven months of the wet season.  The frogs have responded by turning up en masse.  The initial explosive Milky Frog, (Trachycephala venulosa), breeding period will reach an early peak and then they will disappear for the next eleven months, hidden out of sight deep in the vegetation and tree tops.  Throughout the dry season there have been the persistent calls of one or two Banana Frogs, (Dendropsophus ebreccatus).  The calls were in vain as no females were present to respond to them.  Now, however, over the past week many more males have turned up, each one setting up its territory on a seperate Water Hyacinth leaf.  The females have also turned up so the leaves should be covered in egg masses before too long.  Up in the tree tops the forlorn calls of one or two Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs, (Agalychnis callydryas), has turned into a chorus and I have already witnessed several egg laying episodes.  Another frog that has not been heard throughout the dry season turned up at the pond, the Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus microcephala).  At first glance it looks like a Banana Frog but it has a yellow line that runs down its sides and lacks the small bright yellow patch beneath the eye on the top jaw that is so distinctive of the Banana lookalike.

Small-headed Frog. Hylidae. Hylinae. Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica.

Small-headed Frog, (Dendropsophus microcephalus). Male.

Finding Rare Sisters

As the amphibian numbers increase, so do the butterfly numbers decrease.  There are still plenty around both in terms of individuals and species but over the next few months these will disappear and dwindle to only occasional sightings.  One butterfly I managed to get a photograph of this week was the Boeotia Sister, (Adelpha boeotia).

Boeotia Sister. Philip Davison.

Boeotia Sister, (Adelpha boeotia)

The genus: Adelpha, commonly known as the “Sisters”, is a notoriously difficult group to identify to species level.  The features distinguishing each species need to be seen in detail and that is generally only possible if they are at rest and that never seemingly is the case, they are very active, always on the wing.  Of course some are more distinct than others and when you are familiar with the species in your area that helps too.  A common feature of the genus is the white band traversing the dorsal surface of the wings which may extend over both wings or be replaced to a greater or lesser extent on the forewing by orange.  There are thirty species in Costa Rica and they are found in almost all terrestrial habitats.  They never occur in large numbers.  The adults feed on rotting fruit and I was lucky enough to find this individual on the ground feeding from fallen fermenting figs.

Disheveled Youth

On my day out walking the butterfly transect, as I returned across the bridge a juvenile Black-throated Trogon, (Trogon rufus), landed right beside my head.  The bridge traverses a ravine running through the canopy.  At this point you are essentially at the top of the trees.  The trogon looked just newly fledged.  Unfortunately I had a macro lens attached to the front of the camera which was set to photograph butterflies at close range.  I couldn’t miss the opportunity being presented though and with no time to change anything I just lifted the camera and pressed the shutter button.  As the flash went off, the young bird took to the air and disappeared.  But I did at least get one photo.

Black-throated Trogon. Felipe del Bosque. Bosque del Cabo.

Black-throated Trogon, (Trogon rufus). Juvenile

The trogons are fairly sedentary birds.  The male and female can normally be found very close to one another so if you find one then the other will not be too far away.  The plumage can be quite spectacular with the males being brighter than the softer colored females.  The Black-throated Trogon male has a bright metallic green head, back and upper chest.  The belly is bright yellow and of course it has the black throat after which it is named.  The bill is bright yellow and it has a blue eye ring.  The call is a soft trilling sound.  They feed on small fruits and insects.

Flower to Fruit

Some of the fruit trees around the grounds have been coming into flower over the last week.  Guavas, (Psidium gaujava), are native to Costa Rica but are cultivated all over the world.  They flower and fruit several times over the course of the year.  The white flowers are found singly and have a faint perfume.  Later the fruits appear.  They are green with a sweet pink flesh inside which contains the seeds.

Guava. Bosque del Cabo.

Guava, (Psidium guajava) Flower

Philip Davison Is a Biologist, Writer and Photographer Based in Costa Rica

Posted April 24, 2017 by felipedelbosque in Uncategorized

January 2016 – Hot, Dry and Wild With Life   1 comment


Philip Davison. Costa Rica. Blog. Nature Diaries

Weather January 2016

Max Temp 40.0ºC (106ºF)                                                      Max Low Temp 25.1ºC (77ºF)

Min Temp 34.5ºC (94ºF)                                                         Min Low Temp 21.5ºC (71ºF)

Average High Temp 39.3ºC (103ºF)                                       Average Low Temp 24.1ºC (76ºF)

Total Rainfall 42.7mm (1.68ins)

Animal Sightings January 2016

Mammals

Common Opossum

Tamandua

Nine-banded Armadillo

Greater White-lined Bat

Tent-making Bat

Western Red Bat

White-throated Capuchin Monkey

Central American Squirrel Monkey

Mantled Howler Monkey

Central American Spider Monkey

Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel

Red-tailed Squirrel

Central American Agouti

Tome’s Spiny Rat

Northern Raccoon

White-nosed Coati

Kinkajou

Tayra

Striped Hog-nosed Skunk

Ocelot

Puma

Collared Peccary

 

Birds

 

Great Tinamou

Great Curassow

Crested Guan

Brown Booby

Brown Pelican

Magnificent Frigatebird

Bare-throated Tiger Heron

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

King Vulture

Roadside Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Black Hawk

Crested Caracara

Yellow-headed Caracara

Short-billed Pigeon

White-tipped Dove

Royal Tern

Scarlet Macaw

Orange-chinned Parakeets

Red-lored Amazon

Mealy Amazon

Spectacled Owl

Stripe-throated Hermit

Long-billed Hermit

Purple-crowned Fairy

Charming Hummingbird

Blue-throated Goldentail

Rufus-tailed Hummingbird

Black-throated Trogon

Blue-crowned Motmot

Black-mandibled Toucan

Fiery-billed Aracari

Pale-billed Woodpecker

Lineated Woodpecker

Streak-headed Woodcreeper

Black-hooded Antshrike

Chestnut-backed Antbird

Golden-crowned Spadebill

Bright-rumped Atilla

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Great Kiskadee

Masked Tityra

Red-capped Manakin

Riverside Wren

Mourning Warbler

Gray-headed Tanager

Summer Tanager

Cherrie’s Tanager

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Orange-billed Sparrow

 

Reptiles

 

Basilisk

Helmeted Iguana

Slender Anole

Golfo Dulce Anole

Big-headed Anole

Mediterranean House Gecko

Central American Smooth Gecko

Clawless Gecko

Central American Whiptail

Four-lined Whiptail

Mussarana

Cat-eyed Snake

Barred Forest Racer

Green Parrot Snake

Salmon-bellied Racer

 

Amphibians

 

Marine Toad

Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog

Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog

Fitzinger’s Rain Frog

Stejneger’s Dirt Frog

Tink Frog

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog

Milky Frog

Bolivian Frog

Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog

 

Butterflies

 

Cogia calchas

Pyrgus oileus

Quadrus cerialis

Urbanus simplicius

Urbanus teleus

Xenophanes tryxus

Anatrytone potosiensis

Anthoptus epictetus

Callimormus radiola

Euphyes vestris

Eutocus sp

Panoquina lucas

Polites vibex

Pompeius pompeius

Saliana fusta

Synapte silius

Vehilius stictomenes

Battus polydamus

Heraclides cresphontes

Parides erithalion

Eurema albula

Eurema daira

Phoebis agarithe

Phoebis argante

Phoebis sennae

Pyrisitia nise

Glutophrissa drusilla

Arawacus lincoides

Calycopis isobeon

Pseudolycaena damo

Strymon yojoa

Cupido comyntas

Hemiargus hanno

Detritivora gynea

Mesosemia zonalis

Metacharis victrix

Mechanitis polymnia

Antirrhea philoctetes

Caligo eurilochus

Morpho helenor

Morpho menelaus

Opsiphanes tamarindi

Cissia confusa

Cithaerias pireta

Hermeuptychia hermes

Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

Pierella helvina

Pierella luna

Archaeoprepona demophon

Marpesia berania

Pyrrhogyra naearea

Adelpha cytherea

Adelpha heraclera

Agraulis vanillae

Dione juno

Dryas iulia

Eueides aliphera

Eueides lybia

Heliconius cydno

Heliconius erato

Heliconius hecale

Heliconius ismenius

Heliconius sapho

Philaethria dido

Anartia fatima

Anartia jatrophae

 

Philip Davison is a biologist, writer and photographer based in Costa Rica.

Posted February 1, 2016 by felipedelbosque in Uncategorized

A New Age Begins   3 comments


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Week Ending 11th December 2015

Weekly Weather

Average High Temp 101ºF (38.3ºC)               Average Low Temp 75ºF (24.3ºC)

Average Rainfall 1 ins (25.4mm)                    Total Rainfall 7 ins (177.8mm)

Wet and Dry

The dry season at Bosque del Cabo Rain Forest Lodge always experiences a stuttered beginning.  The lodge is located on the south west tip of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Golfo Dulce to the east.  The region is covered by some of the last remaining tropical forest on the Pacific Coast of Central America.  Due to the pronounced seasonality of the area having a profoundly dry five months followed by a wet seven months the forests here are more correctly classified as tropical seasonal forests as opposed to tropical rain forests which are not subject to the annual dry period.

The heaviest rains of the year fall between September and November.  By December the daily deluge abates and we gradually see more of the sun.  It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of “the summer is here” as commonly a few dry, bright days with blue skies will be followed by another week of torrential downpours.  But eventually the faltering weather passes through the transitional phase and settles into a more predictable pattern.  Given a few weeks of steady, dry heat and the plant life will begin to flower.  The number of butterfly species and individuals that had dropped in the wet season begins to build once more so the days are now filled with beautiful, brightly colored wings adorned in poster reds, yellows and orange dancing around the flower heads.

There is never a shortage of mammal or bird sightings.  Currently there are many migratory warblers and tanagers chattering noisily in mixed flocks as they move from tree to tree in search of insects or fruit to eat depending on their specific diet.  The resident bird populations do not mind those long distance travelers returning to spend the winter in the warmer climes of the tropics and join quite readily with their travelling cousins in large flocks.  Monkeys abound in the trees, constantly on the move looking for food whether it is flowers, young leaves, fruit or insects.  Under the trees the large ground living rodents, Agoutis, feed on the fallen fruit and large heavily coated seeds.  Solitary male White-nosed Coatis are on the lookout for anything they can get their paws on; grubs, crabs, bird’s eggs and chicks as well as fruit or discarded food in the bins of the restaurant.  The gregarious females with young patrol in large foraging packs looking for the same food as the males but not with the same bold abandon.

The peace of the hot still sultry afternoon atmosphere is occasionally permeated by the call of a mammal or bird.  The ever active Spider Monkeys let out a series of high-pitched shrieks which sporadically turn into a hysterical frantic screaming match.  From deep in the forest the doleful Howler Monkeys bark and roar their disapproval of some irritation.  The White-faced monkeys oblivious to the presence of human observers chitter and chatter amongst themselves.  Coming from the surrounding vegetation are the chirps and cheaps of the warblers and tanagers.  But for the most part the soporific pulsating heat and the throbbing silence serve to create a languid attitude for visitors to the tropics.

Feed Me

All of a sudden the siesta is interrupted by a harsh ear-piercing screech.  Several birds of prey inhabit the area and neither the hawks nor the falcons have been blessed with a melodious call.  Commonly seen sitting at the top of the palms or on the ground are the Yellow-headed Caracaras, (Milvago chimachima).  Despite their raptorial appearance these elegant members of the falcon family are generally carrion feeders.  They can also be seen riding the backs of cattle feeding on bovine ticks.  Due to their association with cattle they are commonly seen in open pastureland.  Until 1973 they had not been recorded in Costa Rica but following widespread deforestation their distribution and geographical range spread north from Panama into Costa Rica and they can now be seen in Nicaragua.

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That nasty nasal screech was an adult Yellow-headed Caracara calling from on the ground but there was another call, similar yet more urgent.  Not too far from the adult was a newly fledged youngster that was making its first foray from the nest.  It had not yet mastered the art of flight and was demanding food from the parent bird that was watching warily over its offspring’s pitifully laborious progress hopping and jumping across the ground.  The brown speckled shabby looking youngster bore little resemblance to its sleek yellow-faced dark-browed parent standing guard over its precarious and vulnerable position.

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From Sublime to Ridiculous

Another bird seen either high or low is the Turkey Vulture, (Cathartes aura).  As you look up into the deep blue tropical sky it is likely that you will see flocks of birds soaring on the thermals.  Silhouetted against the azure background the shapes and shades circling above you will help discern the different species present.  Long thin wings bent back from the center like a Batman motive combined with a forked tail easily characterize the Magnificent Frigatebird.  A huge bird with broad, wide wings fingered at the end and divided into a monochrome white leading edge and black trailing edge leave no mistake that this is a King Vulture.  Similar in shape but uniformly dark except for grey fingered tips is the Black Vulture.  Soaring with them with the same wing form but with longer tail and complete grey trailing edge is the Turkey Vulture.

On the ground there is no mistaking the Turkey Vulture for its head bare of feathers is bright red.  Like the Yellow-headed Caracara the Turkey Vulture feeds on carrion but unlike its falcon cousin which locates food visually, the vulture has a highly developed olfactory sense and can locate the chemical signature of decomposition following the plume of molecules of death to their source hidden beneath the forest canopy.  They can often be seen beneath the palm trees feeding on the fallen palm fruit.

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Vultures are not everyone’s favorite bird but they play a vital ecological role in disposing of rotting carcasses and rubbish that won’t make to a landfill site.

Fruit and Nuts

Sitting beneath the palm trees in the company of vultures one will more often than not see Agoutis, (Dasyprocta punctata).  These large ground living rodents are related to Capybaras, Coypus, Pacas and more familiarly Guinea Pigs.  Along with the vultures they are waiting for the palm nuts to fall.  Agoutis are essentially seed eaters and have the ability to sit back on their haunches while holding the seed in their front paws which they can manipulate and turn allowing them to easily gnaw through very tough seed coats such as nuts.

At the moment there are a lot of fruits on the grapefruit tree which when ripe fall.  Eagerly awaiting this softer option dropping from above there are some Agouti individuals that pick up the sizable citrus prize in their mouths and carry it off to be eagerly consumed.  They do not eat the peel but rather the soft juicy segments inside.

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Whereas during the day vultures and Agoutis can be seen frequenting the palm trees at night it is possible to see another creature that utilizes the palms.  If you look a little more closely at what might seem like old and dropping palm fronds you will see that they will have had another force at work.  Something has nicked through the veins of the frond to be point where it folds over.  Take a look inside and there you will most likely find the culprit responsible for this chiropteran topiary – the Tent-making Bats, (Uroderma bilobatum).

The Tent-making Bats use the tents as either day roosts or night roosts.  If they are using them as a day roost there can be as many as forty bats hanging under the frond.  They regularly change the location of each roost they are using as predators would quickly figure out where to get an easy meal.  One of the commonest predators of the tent making bats are the Squirrel Monkeys.  During the day they identify which roosts are being used by the bats climb to the fronds above and then drop onto the roost.  The startled bats come fluttering from underneath where they are picked off by the monkeys.

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Currently they are being used as night roosts.  Once the sun has set the bats leave the day roosts and fly to the selected night roosts where they wait until it is very dark before they go foraging for food.  The Tent-making Bats are fruit-eating bats and use night roosts which are never more than 80 – 100 meters away from the nearest fruiting trees which in this area are figs.  The carry the figs in their mouths back to the night roosts whereupon landing they then hold the fruit between their wings, peel off the skin with the teeth and eat the pulp.  Just before the sun rises they leave the night roosts and return to the day roosts where they will pass the day sleeping.

Philip Davison is a biologist, writer and photographer based in Costa Rica.

Getting low and wide – Part 1   Leave a comment


The Smaller Majority by Piotr Naskrecki

Shortly after I had become a proud owner of my first real SLR camera (the wonderful Nikon n6006 – an unexpected Christmas gift from my wife), I decided that what I wanted to do with this magical piece of equipment was to document life that was two or three orders of magnitude smaller than traditional subjects of nature photography. But I wasn’t satisfied with simple macro portraits of katydids and frogs –I was desperate to capture their environment as well, and show a clump of lichens the way a fly sees it – a towering forest, three dimensional, and complex. This, of course, turned out to be easier said than done.

Ever since I saw David Attenborough’s “Trials of Life”, and the mind-boggling sequence of weaver ants tending caterpillars (to this day this remains one of the best macro sequences ever filmed – if you haven’t seen it, buy it

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Posted January 7, 2013 by felipedelbosque in Uncategorized

1-7-13 Amazon Milk Frogs from Ron’s Amphibian Series   1 comment


Ron's Critter of the Day

TAXONOMY
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura (frogs)
Family: Hylidae (“tree frogs and their allies”)

Genus/species: Trachycephalus resinifictrix

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Light grey in color with brown or black banding,  Older frogs develop a slightly bumpy texture. The iris is golden with a black Maltese cross centered on the pupil. There is a vocal sac on each side of the head.  Reach 2.5 to 4 inches in length.

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GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Light grey in color with brown or black banding, Older frogs develop a slightly bumpy texture. Reach 2.5 to 4 inches in length.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT:  Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname, Venezuela.  Found in the canopy of tropical primary humid rainforests. They often inhabit vegetation which extends over permanent, slow-moving water.

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DIET IN THE WILD: Insectivorous

REPRODUCTION: Mainly in the rainy season between November and May. Clutches of about 2500 eggs form a gelatinous mass that floats near the…

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Posted January 7, 2013 by felipedelbosque in Uncategorized

Deforestation of the Amazon is Slowing   Leave a comment


InsightSur

An area of Brazilian rain forest larger than the US State Rhode Island was cleared from July, 2011, to July, 2012 according to data provided by the Brazilian government.

A total of 1797 square miles (4,656 sq km) were cleared in that time; an area equal to 22% of Honduras’ land mass, and nearly twice the size of Luxembourg.

Those numbers represent a 27% decrease from the same time period the previous year according to the same data.

Most of the Amazon rainforest (60%) is contained within Brazil, with 13% found in Peru, 10% in Colombia, and smaller portions in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

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Posted December 29, 2012 by felipedelbosque in Uncategorized

  Leave a comment


Posted December 29, 2012 by felipedelbosque in Uncategorized